For the time being, the questioning of the value of a college education by brandname experts such as Bryan Caplan likely won't influence the majority of young people and their parents.
The risk to earnings and career mobility is simply too high for most human beings to take. They will play it safe and invest in the college experience. All my colleagues, neighbors, and friends continue to position and package earning the BA or BS a must-do. And that is the end of that story, for now.
Sure, geniuses like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg can follow their passion without a college degree.
But there are also uneducated low-income nobodies whose IQs had been tested as genius level. They simply lack the whatever which spots opportunity and transforms it into amazing success.
That's now. And, for now, those of us whose living depends in-part on the higher-education industry shouldn't fret. I edit scholarly manuscripts for those for whom English is a second language. I also coach students in China and Canada on how to approach their personal essays for admission to academic programs.
Eventually, though, higher education could follow traditional journalism and the practice of law in downsizing. Already, like journalism and law, it's being retrofitted by technology. Recently, I researched and created the material for online instruction on an environmental subject. It was being distributed as a stand-alone tutorial, not associated with any university.
Employers could put their heads together with the thinkers such as Caplan in determining what is necessary to know and when in order that human beings can earn a living in X or Y lines of work. The formal academic programs could disappear. Instead there could emerge many education vendors custom-making what is needed and when it is needed. The Harvards and Yales would dispense with the degrees and evolve into research institutions.
To slow down the inevitable, academic institutions could become open to radical change in curriculum, delivery systems, and pricing. That could placate some of the critics of higher education.
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